Those of you who know me know that I’m kind of a blogging geek (I have an entire category dedicated to blogging tips, after all), so it comes as no surprise that I signed up for the SEO session at LuckyFABB last week (I even whipped out my MacBook Air and took notes!). Raman Kai, Executive Director of Digital Strategy at Conde Nast, gave the surprisingly engaging and thorough talk on search engine optimization. For those of you who don’t know, LuckyFABB is a 2-day conference for fashion and beauty bloggers hosted by Lucky Magazine, but more on the amazing event itself later. For now, I’ll discuss the notes I took from the session that will increase traffic to your blog. Like social media, search engines help drive new traffic to your blog, therefore growing your community. The key is to optimize your content so that search engines can index and rank it favorably. Here are some noteworthy points to consider:
Quite possibly the most important takeaway from the session is that every piece of content needs a unique point of view to stand out from the noise. As fashion and beauty bloggers, we know firsthand how many how many other articles there are about our niche. For example, what separates a post about how to wear plaid versus how to wear plaid in your 20s is that the latter has an angle, and is therefore more likely to turn up on the first two pages of search results. In contrast, the more general your content, the less likely it will be indexed. That’s why it’s important to have your unique perspective in the headline, in addition to at least one keyword.
Don’t spam your blog
You may not think you’re a spammer but this is a tricky one, especially now that Google is cracking down on what it perceives as link baiting. I say “perceives” because some bloggers have felt wrongly punished by Google for having links to their blogs on sites that were considered spammy. One blogger at the session mentioned how her blog was banned by Google because her domain was linked to on many spammy blogs. That said, to be safe, don’t join blogrolls or link-ups that link to hundreds of other blogs; these blogs could be considered spam by Google, and therefore your blog will be considered spam by association. When appropriate, link to a relevant page on your blog instead of the the domain itself. This way, Google recognizes the page as being worthy. And as Kai says, page authority is more important than domain authority.
If there’s one piece of advice that every established blogger agrees on it’s the need to collaborate and exchange links with other bloggers. Note: this doesn’t mean spamming your links on every blog link-up as I warned above. Instead, it means developing relationships with a community of established bloggers who will endorse your content. BryanBoy, who made an appearance at LuckyFABB, corroborated this point. He suggests tagging people on social media and exchanging links to build a sense of community. Returning to the topic of page authority, one simple way to build credibility is if a site with a high domain authority links to you. For example, if the NYTimes or Refinery29 link to your blog, you can rest assured that you will rise in the ranks of Google.
Search engines don’t favor ambiguity. Include keywords in your headline, body, image alt-text, and tags that are relevant to search results, but only in moderation. Kai advises not to use more than 5-7 tags (as someone who used to be tag-friendly, this came as a shock to me as well), and to focus on tags that illuminate your unique angle. Too many keywords begins to look like spam to Google, and we know how Google feels about that.
Ask yourself what question everyone (including yourself) is asking, and structure your headline and body around the answer. To use an example from my blog, the article, How to Get Eyebrows like Cara Delevingne is one of my most popular posts because it answers a frequently asked beauty question, which is how to get thicker eyebrows or more specifically, how to get Cara Delevingne’s thick eyebrows. There are many ways to brainstorm answers to potential questions. One way is to understand your audience – what content are they interested in and searching for? Another way is to peruse Google Trends for popular search terms. Much like success on Twitter and Pinterest, success with SEO depends on an intuitive understanding of your audience, what they are looking for, and what they don’t know they want yet.